William Joseph Devenney

US Army Sergeant William Joseph Devenney was a radio operator on board a B26 Marauder, which crashed on Chimney Rock Mountain, Co. Down on 10th April 1944.

Sergeant

William Joseph Devenney

33367015

US Army Sergeant William Joseph Devenney was a radio operator on board a B26 Marauder, which crashed on Chimney Rock Mountain, Co. Down on 10th April 1944.

Sergeant William Joseph Devenney 33367015 served in the United States Army during World War Two. He was born on 17th February 1922 in Carbon County, Pennsylvania, USA.

Devenney was the son of Joseph Devenney of 85 North Street, Mauch Chunk, PA. At the time of his death in Northern Ireland, Devenney was a single man.

He had two older brothers who both served and survived the war. John P Devenney 13069632 was born in 1915 and enlisted as a Private on 17th March 1942. James A Devenney 32499358 was born in 1920 and enlisted as a Private on 10th September 1942.

Funeral of Private Steve Fellin at Lisnabreeny.

The funeral of Private Steve Fellin (32162876) at Lisnabreeny. Private Fellin of 56th Field Artillery Batallion, 8th Infantry Division was killed on 3rd May 1944. The grave on the left belongs to Sergeant William J Devenney, one of the crew of B26 41-18150. Photo taken on 6th May 1944.

Life in Pennsylvania

In the US, William worked as a brakeman for the Central Railroad Company of New Jersey on the Lehigh and Susquehanna Division lines. The lines ran from Mauch Chunk to Easton before joining the main central railroad lines. As a brakeman, Devenney would have assisted in halting the train, checking couplings, lining switches, checking cargo and removing stowaways.

0n 9th December 1942, he enlisted for service as a Private in the Air Corps in Allentown, PA. After initial training at home, he shipped out to No. 3 Combat Crew Replacement Centre Group at Toome, Co. Antrim in Northern Ireland for final training before posting to a combat unit. They came under command of 8th Air Force Composite Command at Kircassock House, Magheralin, Co. Down.

B26 Marauder Crash at Chimney Rock

At 1445hrs on 10th April 1944, three B26 Marauders took off from Toome on a gunnery training mission. 2nd Lieutenant Richard A Newman flew the lead plane. Lieutenant Eugene G Wegman flew right wingman in ‘Jezabelle’ 41-18054. 2nd Lieutenant Howell C Osborne Jr flew left wingman in ‘Winnie Dee’ 41-18150.

Sergeant William Joseph Devenney was a radio operator and gunner on Osborne’s plane. Visibility on the day was around four miles with stratus clouds at 1,000 feet, overcast with breaks, and reported haze.

Around 1530hrs, 2nd Lieutenant Osborne circled over the Irish Sea, two or three miles east of Kilkeel, Co. Down. His aim was to get out of a cloud bank forming around the Mourne Mountains. Flying out of position, he was between 1200 and 1500 feet behind and 400 feet below the other two Marauders when he disappeared into the cloud.

2nd Lieutenant Newman made two attempts to contact Osborne to no avail. The plane had crashed on the south-west side of Chimney Rock Mountain near Newcastle, Co. Down in the Mourne Mountains.

Aftermath of the incident

The ‘Winnie Dee’ crew of five was listed as missing after the incident. There were no survivors. An American 5th Infantry Division on a routine hike discovered the wreckage on Chimney Rock several days later. Official confirmation reached 364th Service Squadron on 15th April 1944.

[Osborne] made an error in technique by permitting himself to get too far out of position in formation and that the pilot made an error in judgement by flying into clouds in a known mountainous area.

Major George Commenator, Accident Report, 21st April 1944.

The ‘Winnie Dee’ Marauder B26 was earlier retired from front-line service as a “war-weary” plane. This may explain why it struggled to keep up with the other two planes in the formation.

Five US servicemen died on Chimney Rock Mountain, Co. Down.

Last NameFirst Name(s)RankRoleInformation
OsborneHowell C2nd LieutenantPilotUSAAF 0-685276. From Arkansas.
TurnerChester M2nd Lieutenant2nd PilotUSAAF 0-753462. From Cowley County, Kansas.
CappeRoy RStaff SergeantAerial EngineerUSAAF 13041696. From Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.
GyovaiJimmieSergeantAir GunnerUSAAF 15337609. From Boone County, West Virginia.
DevenneyWilliam JosephSergeantAir GunnerUSAAF 33367015. From Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania.

Remembering William Joseph Devenney

The US Army Graves Registration recovered the five men’s bodies and brought them to Wilton’s Funeral Home, 255 Crumlin Road, Belfast, Co. Antrim. All funerals took place at Wilton’s Funeral Chapel. The five Americans were buried in Class A Uniforms at Lisnabreeny American Cemetery in the Castlereagh Hills with full military honours.

The 2013 Lisnabreeny Memorial.

A new pillar of Mourne granite marks the site of the former American military cemetery at Lisnabreeny. Photo taken on 16th June 2013.

Sergeant William Joseph Devenney’s original grave was at Plot B, Row 2, Grave 8 in Lisnabreeny American Cemetery on the Rocky Road, Belfast. His funeral took place on 20th April 1944.

After decommissioning of the Lisnabreeny site, exhumation took place on 11th November 1947. On 21st September 1948, Devenney was reburied in Plot D, Row 2, Grave 100 of the American War Cemetery, Madingley, Cambridge, UK. His name features on the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Mauch Chunk, Jim Thorpe, PA.

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